Sophos ID theft experiment proves UK public are careless with personal data

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with Sophos, told Infosecurity that people were stopped in the street and asked for their personal data, including name, address and date of birth.

"Then we asked them a series of data security questions, ending up with whether they would give a complete stranger their personal details", he said.

"Most said no, but a sizeable minority said `no, but I realise I've just given those details to you just now'", he added.

During filming, all but one person interviewed gave their full name and an overwhelming majority also happily shared personal data such as their date of birth and email address without realising they could be exposing themselves to an identity thief.

In addition, said Cluley, the vox pop video revealed that many people are unaware or have a lack of faith in organisations' ability to look after their personal data.

The findings, he said, are worrying as corporate data leaks risk creating long-lasting damage to business reputation in the eyes of consumers.

"We took the unusual step of acting like identity thieves by using a video camera to find out what people thought of identity theft. We were mortified by how many people were prepared to share their personal information with complete strangers", he explained.

According to Cluley, the video vox pop interviews highlighted what is just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger issue that needs to be addressed.

"Consumers, businesses and organisations all have a responsibility to constantly look after sensitive information and not let it fall into the wrong hands. Hopefully this video will warn other members of the public to be more careful in the future with their personal data."


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